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Questions that reveal important financial information

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How to fact-find, educate instead of sell and prospect through compliments.

What information is really needed to assess someone’s financial situation? Our industry has seen many fact-finders and financial-needs analysis forms, some ranging in length from four to 15 pages long. Our presentation should be so simple that even a 10-year-old can understand it. Anytime we become too complicated, we will lose some of our prospects.

When looking at a client or prospect’s financial information, we look at two things first.

1. What you have

Accountants refer to these as “assets,” but normal folks can refer to them as “what you have.” This will comprise things like property, cars and money.

What is most important, though, is how we ask the question. We can do it like this:

  • Tell me, do you own the house you live in?
    If yes, what is its approximate value?
  • Do you own any other properties?
    How much are they worth?
  • Do you have any other investments you would like to list? What are they, and how much are they worth?
  • Do you own any vehicles?
    How many and what are their values?
  • If you had to put a value on your cash or liquid assets — e.g., cash at bank, credit union balances, etc. — how much would you say it totals?

Then I would say, “Let me congratulate you on all that you have achieved, but let me ask you a question: If you had died last night, what would you like your spouse [their name] and your children [their names] to do with what you’ve accumulated?” I would go through each item, asking the client if they would like the family to keep or sell each. I make a note next to the asset so that we will know what can be disposed of and what will be kept.

2. What you owe

In a similar way, I ask prospects about their debts:

  • Is there a mortgage on your home, and approximately what is the outstanding balance?
    Do you have any loans outstanding against the other properties? If so, how much?
  • Any vehicle loans?
  • Any other loans not mentioned before?
  • What is the average monthly balance outstanding on your credit card?
  • Are any of these loans insured? (If so, please ensure that you ascertain which policy is covering the loan.)

Then we quantify the client or prospect’s needs, including debts, bills, education, spousal support and last expenses, before proposing a solution.

Carlyle Fletcher is a 19-year MDRT member from San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago. Contact him at

Why you should be an educator instead of a seller

By Ellis N. Liddell, BS

As financial advisors, we should help educate clients to make informed decisions. The internet is a powerful tool, but it must be interpreted. For example, you may be able to read about how to do surgery on yourself, but it is not recommended you actually do it.

Ask questions

Our job as advisors is simple: Ask questions to make our clients think, to make them pause. Some advisors think it best to do most of the talking; however, we should listen twice as much as we talk.

If we ask questions of our clients to make them think, we can only help them if we listen to their answers. I was told a long time ago that the answer is in the question. So, as educators versus sellers, listeners versus talkers, it’s our job to assist our clients in making informed decisions.

Visualize success

How do you get to that decision process? You do it through visualization. You visualize success, not only for yourself but for your client family. Just like we are part of the MDRT family, we have client families. And there’s nothing like celebrating success with those we care about the most.

What does success look like to your clients? It is very important that they make the right decision at the right time. Visualization techniques enable us to recognize and appreciate success when we see it.

Being a financial advisor is a commitment to walk with your client through life. It’s not one and done, but rather a pledge to be with them as challenges arise. Let’s make educating clients a priority.

Ellis Liddell is a six-year MDRT member from Southfield, Michigan, USA. Contact him at

Give sincere compliments, gain worthwhile prospects

By Walton W. Rogers, CLU, ChFC

When looking for new clients, don’t forget the ones who may be right in front of you the next time you’re standing in a car dealership or other business. All you need are sincere compliments.

This approach has opened more doors than any other prospecting tool that I have used. It works in a variety of businesses — including small retail businesses, large employee-owned businesses, public companies, auto dealerships, defense contractors, manufacturers and many others.

Here’s what I say when I’m using this prospecting technique based on compliments:

Thank you for taking a few minutes to speak with me. My name is Walton Rogers, and I’m a customer of yours. I was told that this is your company.

I want to compliment you on running a company that treats the customer as a special person. Your employee, Fred Smith, listened to me carefully, suggested ways to resolve my problem and then followed up. I do not get that kind of care very often. Thank you, and thanks for training your people so well. Do you do most of the training? Was this company your idea?

Your company has been so helpful to me; I would like to return the favor.

The jobs that I enjoy most are helping families build wealth, protecting the growth of that wealth and then helping them enjoy the fruits of their hard work, making retirement a victory.

Could we meet in a few weeks so we could talk about your long-term dreams and goals for this business, especially as it relates to your personal financial growth?

Perhaps, after learning more about your business, I will be able to suggest some tools that have helped similar businesses advance their financial goals. May I return the favor by meeting with you in about 10 days?

The theme here is “a favor for a favor” or “a gift for a gift.” When we do something nice for people, they naturally feel some obligation to return that same attitude that we used in our approach. Give them something of value, and they will want to add value to building the relationship.

Walton Rogers is a 47-year MDRT member and 2009 President from Amelia Island, Florida, USA. Contact him at


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